Prepare the Way for the Lord

2nd Week of Advent

Week of December 9, 2018

Sermon-Based Curriculum


—> Who is one of your favorite political figures, living or dead? Why this person?

—>If you were an advertising executive and your firm was chosen to prepare the way for Jesus’ arrival in the United States, what would you do? What kind of campaign would you develop?


Read Luke 3:1-6 (WARNING: difficult names to pronounce!)

—> How many years probably pass between Luke 1:8 and 3:1?

—> Why did Luke bother to list all the political and religious figures in verses 1-2?

—> What kind of person was John the Baptist? What was the basic content of his message? What more do you learn about John—his message and his style—in Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; John 1:6-8, 19-28?

—> Specifically, how was John the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3-5? How important was this role of preparing the way for the Lord?

—> According to verse 3, what is necessary for repentance to be real? Why? What is the relationship between repentance and action?

—> Why do you think the abrasive words of John would cause some people to repent? How would these words prepare the way for the Lord?

—> Why might the people be wondering if John were the Christ? According to verses 15-18, what was John’s position in relation to Jesus? How would this “prepare the way for the Lord”?

—> Why do you think God would allow John to be locked up? In what way would this help to “prepare the way for the Lord’?


—> Who have been John the Baptists in your life— people who have shown you the way, led you to Christ, kicked you in the pants, etc?

—> What might be John’s message to you? What would he say you could do specifically to show Christian love and repentance?

—> What one action will you take this week to “produced fruit in keeping with your repentance”?

[Source: Serendipity Bible, pp. 136-138]

Biblical Background

Judgment and Salvation

The word judgment often conjures up images of courtrooms, scales of judgment, and feelings of condemnation. Envisioning the Last Judgment may include extreme visions of weeping and gnashing of teeth, unquenchable fires, and darkness. Judgment and salvation often seem like opposites. Salvation can be thought of as an escape from judgment. However, judgment and salvation connect through a desire for justice and hope for a different, better future. Biblically, salvation is often the result of judgment. Think of the salvation of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. Their freedom is won through God’s judgment of the pharaoh and the Egyptian gods. There is no true salvation without judgment.

John, the messenger of the coming Messiah, preaches judgment. But notice who is the recipient of God’s judgment, according to John (and the prophets before him). John’s ministry, like Israel’s prophets before him, is a message of warning – the Lord is coming, and those in high places will be brought low; those in the valley will be lifted. These are signs of radical social, economic, political, and spiritual reversals. Salvation, deliverance— freedom from captivity—is coming for God’s people, but as John announces it, it is coming through judgment.

Theological Background


John preaches “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Repentance can too often be thought of as a one-time experience. Rather, John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist movement) taught that ongoing repentance is typical and necessary for the growth of believers. As we grow closer to Christ, we recognize more of our faults and limitations, how tight sin has its grip on us, and how much more we need the grace of God to become what God would have us to be. Rather than a sign of weakness or that our life is not going well, responding to God through repentance is a mark of growth and a willingness to more fully rely on God’s grace.

Especially in our individualistic culture, it is easy to miss the communal impact of repentance. Repentance certainly requires ownership on the part of the individual seeking forgiveness. Yet, sin is more than a barrier between us and God. Sin also erects a barrier between us and others. Thus, forgiveness is more than reconciliation with God; it is also a restoration within and to the community of believers. Repentance is necessary for individual and communal growth.